2. The noun phrase

In this chapter I discuss the syntax of noun phrases. In 2.1 I present the determiner system (where determiners in Tokana are functionally equivalent to pronouns, articles, and demonstratives in English). In 2.2 I discuss noun morphology, including case marking and reduplication. In 2.3 I discuss the syntax of noun compounds. 2.4 presents the structure of relative clauses. And in 2.5 I consider various sub-classes of nouns which require special discussion, including interrogative operators (which are also used as indefinites), quantifiers, and spatial/directional nouns (many of which are equivalent to prepositions in English).

2.1. Determiners

In Tokana, every specific noun phrase (see below) is introduced by a determiner. A determiner may occur as a noun phrase by itself, or it may be the head of a complex phrase containing one or more nouns, together with modifiers (e.g. relative clauses, prepositional phrases, etc.). Compare the following:

te           "it, that"
te halma     "the book, that

In these examples, te is the determiner. Notice that when te occurs by itself, it corresponds to a personal or demonstrative pronoun in English ("it, that"), and when te is followed by a noun such as halma "book", it corresponds roughly to the definite article in English ("the") or to a demonstrative ("that").

Determiners indicate the person, number, and animacy of the noun phrase, and also inflect for case (section 2.1.1). In the above examples, te marks the noun phrase as being third person, singular, and inanimate. Compare these examples with the ones given below, where ten marks a noun phrase as third person plural inanimate, and se marks a noun phrase as third person plural animate:

ten          "they, them, those
ten halma    "the
books, those books"

"they, them, those (animate)"
ikei      "the dogs, those

(N.B.: In order to make the examples easier to read, I will gloss the determiners throughout this grammar using the nearest equivalent English pronoun or article - e.g. you, me, they, he; the, this, etc. - according to context. Readers should refer to the discussion below and in the following sections for a clearer understanding of what each determiner means and how it differs from its closest English equivalent(s).)

If a noun phrase is specific, then it must be headed by a determiner, and if it is non-specific, then it lacks a determiner. A noun phrase is considered specific if it refers back to an entity or concept which is already present in the discourse. For example, a specific noun phrase such as te katia "the house, that house" might refer to an entity which has been previously mentioned in the conversation (e.g. the house we were talking about), or to an entity which is present in the environment where the sentence is being uttered (e.g. that house over there which we can see), or to an entity which is otherwiseidentifiable by the listener based on previous knowledge (e.g. the house where your friend lives). If, on the other hand, a noun phrase serves to introduce a new entity (or set of entities) into the discourse, then it is considered non-specific, and is not headed by a determiner. Compare the following sentences:

Lhyue     hen
lati     itai    kotoi
enter-Pst two children the:Dat
"Two children entered the room"

Se         hen lati     lhyuei
the:Pl:Abs two children enter-Pst-the:NA room-Dat 
(of the) children entered the room"
or "The two children entered
the room"

In the first sentence, the noun phrase "two children" has no determiner (hen lati), whereas in the second sentence, "two children" is introduced by the animate plural determiner (se hen lati). These sentences differ in meaning in the following way: By uttering the first sentence, the speaker presents a new situation, and in so doing, asserts the existence of a pair of children. This sentence could be uttered out of the blue, and may serve to identify the children as a new topic of discussion. The second sentence, by contrast, presupposes the existence of a group of children, and can only be uttered in a context in which (groups of) children are being discussed, as in the following mini-discourse:

Ysmai       heun   kelu  lati.      Se         hen lati
outside-Dat be-Cpl seven children   the:Pl:Abs two children
"There were seven children outside. Two (of the) children
came in."

Here the first sentence sets up a context in which a group of children is present. The use of the determiner se in the second sentence makes it clear that "two children" refers to a subset of the previously mentioned group.

A noun phrase will lack a determiner if it is non-referential - that is, if it does not refer to any particular entity at all, as in the following sentence:

Ami   kypesa   kamal
I:Erg look:for knife
"I am
looking for a knife"
or "I am looking for

This sentence might be uttered in a context in which the speaker does not have a particular knife (or knives) in mind. Instead, any knife will do.

It is important to note that every specific noun phrase in Tokana must begin with a determiner, regardless of what kind of noun phrase it is. Thus determiners are required with proper names, possessed noun phrases, and definite quantificational expressions, even though in English these types of noun phrases do not normally occur with a determiner:

ne Sakial            "Sakial" (name of a
person; lit. "the Sakial [animate]")
Tenmothai         "Tenmothai" (name of a place; lit.
"the Tenmothai [inanimate]")

te katia
"the house"
te katiama
"my house" (lit. "the house-my")
te katiana Sakial    "Sakial's house"
(lit. "the house-(of)-the Sakial")

kekua moiha       "each girl" (lit. "the each

Tokana has eight determiners, which are listed below in their most 'basic' forms (viz. their unstressed absolutive case forms):

   singular  plural
 first person  me  kim
 second person  ke  kyin
 third person animate  ne  se
 third person inanimate  te  ten

The first and second person determiners correspond to first and second person pronouns in English (I, me; we, us; you):

Hielesa me      "They saw me"
Hielesa ke      "They saw you

Hielesa kim     "They saw
Hielesa kyin    "They saw you

In the third person, the determiners have distinct animate and inanimate forms. Among the animate forms, no distinction is made between masculine and feminine gender. Thus, ne may correspond to either "he" or "she" in English, depending on context.

Hielesa ne      "They saw
Hielesa te      "They saw

Hielesa se      "They saw them
Hielesa ten     "They saw
them (inanimate)"

The animate determiners are used with noun phrases denoting people, animals, spirits, and (in myths and stories) personified forces and entities. The inanimate determiners are used with all other noun phrases (i.e. those referring to inanimate objects, abstract concepts, etc.):

ne          "he, she"          te           "it"
moiha    "the girl"         te
katia     "the house"
eithe    "the horse"        te
uhin      "the song"

"they"             ten
se moiha    "the
girls"        ten katia    "the
se eithe    "the
horses"       ten uhin     "the

These determiners may be used either to refer back to a previously-mentioned or familiar entity or group (much like English the) or to pick out a subset of a previously-mentioned set. Consider the following:

kuole    inlotka   se      ehte  mikal
I:Erg meet-Pst yesterday
the:Abs three boy
"I met the/those three boys yesterday"
"I met three of the boys yesterday"

In this sentence, se ehte mikal may refer to a particular group of three boys which has been mentioned before, or which is otherwise familiar in the discourse, in which case it corresponds to the English expression the three boys or those three boys. Or it may refer to some new (or random) group of three from amongst the boys under discussion, in which case it corresponds to the English expression three of the boys. (Note that if the determiner were left off entirely, then the speaker would be referring to a previously unmentioned or arbitrary set of three boys.)

Determiners in Tokana can occur either as independent words, or as suffixes on other words (called clitics). I discuss these different forms below.

2.1.1. Independent determiners and the five cases

Noun phrases in Tokana are marked for case (where the case which a noun phrase takes indicates something about the role that noun phrase plays in the clause). There are five cases in Tokana:

Absolutive (Abs)
Ergative (Erg)
Dative (Dat)
Instrumental (Inst)
Ablative (Abl)

Although nouns take suffixes for certain cases (as discussed in 2.2.4), it is only with the independent determiners (i.e. determiners that occur as separate words) that all five cases are distinctively marked. The table below gives the case declensions for each of the independent determiners:

   1 sg  2 sg  3 sg animate  3 sg inanimate






mai, me





koi, ke





nai, ne

ani, na




tai, te





   1 pl  2 pl  3 pl animate  3 pl inanimate
















sai, se

asi, sa









In colloquial Tokana, the ergative determiners ami, ani, and asi are often heard as am, an, and as, respectively - especially when followed by a word beginning with a vowel (e.g. Am uslè "I finished it"). Similarly, the second person singular form aku may be heard as auk, ak, or ok in colloquial speech, depending on dialect. Moreover, the prefix i- on the dative, instrumental, and ablative determiners may be dropped in speech and informal writing (e.g. man instead of iman for the first person singular locative). In this grammar, however,I will stick to the 'proper' forms.

Notice from the above table that in the absolutive case, each of the singular determiners, together with the third person plural animate determiner, has both a 'heavy' form ending in a diphthong (mai, koi, nai, tai, sai) and a 'light' form ending in an unstressed vowel (me, ke, ne, te, se). The third person ergative determiners also have a 'heavy' form, which is bisyllabic (ani, asi), and a 'light' form, which is monosyllabic (na, sa). The distribution of these forms is as follows:

(a) The light forms are used when the determiner appears with a following noun. For example, "the house (Abs)" is te katia, never tai katia, while "the man (Erg)" is na kal, never ani kal.

(b) The heavy forms are used when the determiner appears by itself as a pronoun, unless it occurs as an unstressed direct object, in which case the light forms are used. Unstressed direct objects always appear immediately after the verb (or immediately after the subject, if the subject is also postverbal). E.g., compare the following sentences:

Nai    teusu pata
he:Abs very
"He is very tall"

inlotka   nai
meet-Pst-they:NA yesterday him:Abs
"They met him

Kuolesa          ne
meet-Pst-they:NA him:Abs yesterday
"They met him

Notice that in the third sentence, "him" is ne, since it occurs immediately after the verb kuolesa "they met", while in the second sentence, "him" is nai, since it is separated from the verb by the adverbial inlotka "yesterday".

In section 3.8, I discuss the five cases with reference to the different verb classes in Tokana. In (1)-(4) below, however, I offer a general summary of the uses of each case, with examples:

(1) Absolutive and ergative: The ergative case is generally associated with the agent (the participant who carries out the action denoted by the verb), while the absolutive case is associated with the patient (the participant which is affected by the action denoted by the verb). Ergative case marks the subjects of canonical transitive verbs, and absolutive case the direct objects, as the following examples show. Notice from these examples that word order plays no role in determining which participant is the subject and which is the object. Instead, it is the case form of the determiner which makes this clear.

Na      moiha kahte   inlotka   ne
the:Erg girl  hit-Pst yesterday the:Abs boy
"The girl hit
the boy yesterday"

Ne      mikal kahte
inlotka   na      moiha
the:Abs boy   hit-Pst yesterday the:Erg
"The girl hit the boy yesterday"

katia lhon  na      miahtema          itiespun
the:Abs house there
the:Erg grandfather-my:NA Foc-build-Cpl
"My grandfather built that

In addition to marking the direct objects of most transitive verbs, the absolutive case is used to mark the subjects of most intransitive verbs, although some intransitives take ergative (or dative) subjects. Compare the following:

Ne      mikal inlotka   itskane
the:Abs boy   ye
sterday arrive-Pst
"The boy arrived yesterday"

Na      mikal muelhun   immiote    lohe
the:Erg boy
sleep-Cpl whole:time day-Dat
"The boy slept all

As a general rule, absolutive case subjects are found with those intransitive verbs which express motion (e.g. arrive, return, go away), location (e.g. sit, stand), or existence (e.g. be, be here, be missing), or which denote involuntary actions, properties, or states (die, grow, be sick, be tall). Ergative case subjects, on the other hand, are commonly found with those intransitives which denote voluntary actions (e.g. sleep, run, dance). See 3.8.2 for additional discussion and examples.

Notice from the table above that the inanimate determiners te and ten lack ergative case forms. This is because only animate nouns may occur in the ergative case. For those transitive verbs which allow inanimate subjects, the subject appears in the instrumental case rather than the ergative (see below). For example, compare the following sentences with lima "open":

mikal limè             hitol
the:Erg boy   open-Pst-the:Abs
"The boy opened the door"

suhune    limè             hitol
the:Inst wind-Inst
open-Pst-the:Abs door
"The wind opened the door" (by blowing it

Here an animate causer of the action ("the boy") appears in the ergative case, while an inanimate causer of the action ("the wind") appears in the instrumental case (see below for more examples).

There is a requirement in Tokana that ergative subjects must always be specific - that is, they must always occur with a determiner. There is thus no way to say a sentence like A man took my money (where the speaker does not have a particular man in mind) using the ordinary transitive sentence pattern illustrated above. Instead, an existential construction must be used (see 3.7.3 for more on existential sentences):

kal pesit        ten        talak
is man take-Dep:Pst the:Pl:Abs
"A man took my money"
lit. "There is a man who took my

Or, if my money is the topic of the sentence (section 5.1.4):

Ten        talak he kal pesit
the:Pl:Abs coin  is
man take-Dep:Pst
"My money was taken by a man"
lit. "My
money, there is a man who took (it)"

(2) Instrumental: As the name indicates, the instrumental case is used to mark instruments, that is objects which are used by the agent to carry out the action denoted by the verb, as in the examples below. Notice that when an instrumental determiner is accompanied by a noun, the noun is marked with the suffix -ne (see 2.2.4):

Na      mikal tsitspè           kopo itan
the:Erg boy   smash-Pst-the:Abs pot  the:Inst
"The boy smashed the pot with the hammer"

Na      mikal limè             hitol itan
the:Erg boy   open-Pst-the:Abs door  the:Inst
"The boy opened the door with the

The instrumental case is also used to mark non-volitional agents (also called actors) - i.e., participants which carry out a particular action, but without any conscious intent. Non-volitional agents are typically inanimate forces or tools, as in the following examples:

ahone    sylhè            kise
the:Inst sun-Inst
melt-Pst-the:Abs ice
"The sun melted the ice"

Itan     iosokne  limà         hitol
key-Inst open-the:Abs door
"This key opens the door"
"This key can be used to open the

In the first sentence above, the sun is what causes the ice to melt. However, since the sun is inanimate, it cannot consciously perform the action of melting; rather, the action happens spontaneously. In the second sentence, the key is what performs the act of opening the door. However, as with the sun in the first sentence, the key does not perform the action wilfully. Instead, it is manipulated by some other, conscious entity (an agent).

The instrumental case may also be used in place of the ergative case, when the event denoted by the verb is being performed unintentionally. Compare:

Ami   hane    silh
I:Erg cut-Pst finger
"I cut
my finger" (on purpose)

Iman   hane
I:Inst cut-Pst finger
"I cut my finger" (by

The first sentence would be used if the speaker cut his finger deliberately (e.g. in preparation for a blood-sibling ritual), while the second sentence would be used if the speaker cut his finger accidentally (e.g. because the knife slipped).

With verbs of motion, the instrumental case may be used to indicate the path traversed or the route taken, as in the following examples:

Ne      iha
hepanei               sihilalne
the:Abs woman walk:along-Pst-the:NA
"The woman walked along the bank of the

Na      peilan uaste   itan     ypiane
the:Erg bird   fly-Pst the:Inst area:above-Inst
"The bird flew over the tree"
(lit. "The bird flew via
the area above the tree")

In the second sentence above, the noun phrase te ypia palahta means "the area above the tree" or "the tree's above-area" (see 2.5.4). The use of instrumental case here indicates that the flight path of the bird included this area - i.e. the bird passed above the tree as it flew.

Finally, the instrumental case is used with verbs of communication (like uluma "speak/understand" and siespa "write") to indicate the language or other means of communication being used:

Asi      ni ulumai
they:Erg Qu speak-the:NA Tokana-Inst
"Do they speak

Te      halma siespunna       itan
the:Abs book  write-Cpl-he:NA the:Inst
"He wrote the book in

(3) Dative: The dative case has a number of different uses. Typically it is used to mark recipients (indirect objects) with ditransitive verbs like uthma "give" and lasta "send". Note that nouns in the dative case are marked with the suffix -e or -i (see 2.2.4):

Ami   uthme    pami inai    mikale
I:Erg give-Pst
food the:Dat boy-Dat
"I gave food to the boy"

Ami   laste    kihun  inai    Hane
I:Erg send-Pst
letter the:Dat Han-Dat
"I sent a letter to

Dative case is also used to mark the subjects of certain transitive and intransitive verbs which indicate mental activities (e.g. verbs of perception and emotion like see, hear, be angry):

Inai    mikale
the:Dat boy-Dat be:happy
"The boy is happy"

Inai    Mafè     hiele   itka       ne
the:Dat Mafe-Dat see-Pst then(Past) the:Abs girl
saw the girl earlier"

Imai  muthoti
mà   itsanko
I:Dat understand-Neg what say-Dep-you:NA
don't understand what you say"

In addition, the dative case can be used with stative predicates to mark the participant from whose point of view the situation described by the predicate holds:

Imai   tiyla
muelhanna        Sakial
me:Dat seem  sleep-Dep-the:NA
"It seems to me that Sakial is sleeping"

Te      hostanapi tiapa inai    Hane
the:Abs dancing
easy  the:Dat Han-Dat
"Dancing is easy for Han"

Inai    Hane    tsuò ankailà
the:Dat Han-Dat too  Rel-hot-the:Abs soup
"This soup is too
hot for Han"
or "As far as Han is concerned, this soup is too

With verbs denoting motion, the dative case is used to mark the goal of motion (that is, the place or object towards which the motion is directed, or at which the motion terminates):

Ne      Mafe
ete    moke
the:Abs Mafe go-Pst home-Dat
"Mafe went

Na      Elim puite    ie   klotat   itai
the:Erg Elim ride-Pst with fast-Dep the:Dat
"Elim rode quickly to

Dative case is also used to indicate the temporal or spatial location at which an event occurs, as in the following examples. (Here dative case is used in situations where English would use a preposition such as at, on, or in.)

Na      Sakial
sulhtai     Tenmothaie
the:Erg Sakial live-the:NA
"Sakial lives in Tenmothai"

Kima   tahe     moke
we:Erg stay-Pst
"We stayed at home"

Kim    eta
nioktat    tuhsai
we:Abs go  return-Dep winter-Dat
"We will
return in the winter"

Na      mikal kespa kopo
the:Erg boy   hold  pot  hands-Dat
"The boy is
holding a pot in [his] hands"

Te      halma
tasiha itai    pamai   totsat
the:Abs book  sit    the:Dat top-Dat
"The book is sitting on top of the table"
(lit. "The
book is sitting on the table-top")

Finally, dative case is used with verbs denoting a possession relation (e.g. he "be/have", yma "have"; see section 3.7.3) to mark the possessor:

Imai   he
me:Dat is book
"I have a book"
(lit. "To me is
a book")

Inai    Elime    yma  luan
the:Dat Elim-Dat have hair black
"Elim has black

(4) Ablative: The ablative case is typically used with verbs of motion to indicate the source or starting point of movement. Nouns in the ablative case are marked with the ending -u (section 2.2.4).

Kim    laisne   lhiane        itaul   Uilumau
just:now come:here-Pst the:Abl Uiluma-Abl
"We have just arrived here
from Uiluma"

Ne      moiha sufianei
the:Abs girl  go:out-Pst-the:NA room-Abl
"The girl
went/came out of the room"

The ablative case is also used with verbs of building and making to indicate the material used:

Itai    okai
Tokana tiespa katia lotsanu
the:Dat people-Dat Tokana build  house
"Among the Tokana people, houses are built of

Finally, ablative case is used within quantified noun phrases to mark the superset in a partitive relation, and within noun phrases containing a measure noun to indicate the substance being measured out (here ablative marking corresponds to the preposition of in English; see section 2.5.2):

se         ehte  isaul      mikalu
the:Pl:Abs three
the:Pl:Abl boy-Abl
"three of the boys"
(lit. "the three from
the boys")

te      kekua itenul
the:Abs each  the:Pl:Abl book-Abl
"each of the

es  mekul meunu
one bowl
"a bowl of milk"

Note also the following expressions (see section 2.5.4):

ahuafaute itaul   pulu
west-Dat  the:Abl
"west of the village"
(lit. "in the west from
the village")

klione        itaul
left:hand-Dat the:Abl door-Abl
"to the left of the
(lit. "on the left hand from the

2.1.2. Clitic determiners

Besides the full forms of the determiners discussed above, there are also clitic (suffixed) determiners. These attach to the end of a predicate - a noun, verb, or preposition - whenever the noun phrase headed by the determiner immediately follows the predicate, and acts as one of its arguments (subject, object, possessor, etc.). For example, when an absolutive noun phrase like ne kal "the man" occurs immediately after the verb kahte "hit", to which it stands in the direct object relation, the determiner ne will attach to kahte as a suffix:

kahte    +  ne      kal    >
Ami   kahten          kal
I:Erg hit-Pst
the:Abs man          I:Erg hit-Pst-the:Abs man

"I hit the man"

Here kahte "hit" and ne "the" fuse to become kahten "hit the".

Clitic determiners form a phonological (and orthographic) word with the element they attach to, and thus usually cause a shift in stress:

"hit"                         te
hálma      "the book"
kahtén    "hit him", "hit
the..."       te halmáko
"your book"

A determiner must be strictly adjacent to the predicate in order to attach to it as a clitic. In the following sentence, for example, inlotka blocks the determiner from fusing with kahte, and so the independent form ne must be used:

Ami   kahte   inlotka   ne      kal
I:Erg hit-Pst
yesterday the:Abs man
"I hit the man

Note also that only one clitic may be attached to a given predicate. If a predicate is followed by two determiners which are both capable of cliticising to it, only the closer of the two will actually attach to the predicate. E.g., the examples below show that either -ma (the clitic form of imai "to me") or -te (the clitic form of ten "them") may be attached to the verb uthme "gave", but not both together:

Na      mikal
uthmema        ten
the:Erg boy   give-Pst-me:NA them:Abs
boy gave me them"

Na      mikal uthmete
the:Erg boy   give-Pst-them:Abs me:Dat
"The boy gave them
to me"

There are two sets of clitic determiners, which I will call the absolutive (Abs) set and the non-absolutive (NA) set. The absolutive clitics are as follows:

   singular  plural
 first person  -m, -me  -kim
 second person  -ke  -kyin
 third person animate  -n, -ne  -s, -se
 third person inanimate  -(h), -e  -te

Absolutive clitics are found only on verbs, where they indicate the absolutive argument (the intransitive subject or the transitive direct object) of the verb. Note that clitics are attached to the verb after any tense/aspect, negation, order, or imperative suffixes (see 3.1-3.4):

Itskanem                Na      Mafe
arrive-Pst-me:Abs       the:Erg Mafe hit-Pst-me:Abs
arrived"             "Mafe hit me"

Itskaneke               Na      Mafe
arrive-Pst-you:Abs      the:Erg Mafe
"You arrived"           "Mafe hit

Itskanekim              Na      Mafe
arrive-Pst-us:Abs       the:Erg Mafe
"We arrived"            "Mafe hit

Note that certain endings have two variants: The full forms -me, -ne, and -se are used after a consonant, while the reduced forms -m, -n, and -s are used after a vowel. E.g. the full forms are used after the completive suffix -un, and the reduced forms are used after the past tense suffix -e:

Na      Mafe kahten
the:Erg Mafe
"Mafe hit him/her"

Mafe kahten          ikei
the:Erg Mafe hit-Pst-the:Abs
"Mafe hit the dog"

Na      Mafe
the:Erg Mafe hit-Cpl-him/her:Abs
"Mafe has hit him/her

Na      Mafe kahtunne
the:Erg Mafe hit-Cpl-the:Abs dog
"Mafe has hit the dog

Similarly with the inanimate singular: The -e form is used after consonants, while the -h form is used after vowels. (Recall from 1.2 that the -h suffix drops word-finally, but causes a stress shift, marked by a diacritic on the final vowel). Consider the following examples:

Na      Mafe
tsitspè                  (= tsitspe + -h)
Mafe break-Pst-it:Abs
"Mafe broke it"

Mafe tsitspè           kopo
the:Erg Mafe break-Pst-the:Abs
"Mafe broke the pot"

Na      Mafe
tsitspune         kopo   (= tsitspun +
the:Erg Mafe break-Cpl-the:Abs
"Mafe has broken the pot"

Note also that -se becomes -tse after a nasal:

aku skonun       "you have looked
aku skonuntse    "you have
looked at them"

The non-absolutive (NA) clitics are given below:

   singular  plural
 first person  -ma  -kma, -kima
 second person  -ko  -kyina
 third person animate  -na  -sa
 third person inanimate  -(h)i  -ta

The non-absolutive clitics mark a non-absolutive argument - i.e. an ergative, dative, instrumental, or ablative argument - of the predicate they attach to.

Note that -ko, -k(i)ma, -kyina, -sa, and -ta cause assimilation of a preceding nasal. Likewise the third person plural clitic -sa becomes -tsa after a nasal, l, or lh:

te konom         "the hammer"
te kononko       "your hammer"
te kononkyina    "your (pl) hammer"
te konontsa      "their hammer"

ten silh         "the fingers"
ten silhko       "your fingers"
ten silhtsa      "their

Note also that the first person plural non-absolutive clitic has two forms, -kma and -kima: The shorter form is used when the clitic attaches to a word ending in a vowel, while the longer form is used when the clitic attaches to a word ending in a consonant:

"sleep"          muelhan-
"that (someone) sleeps"
"we sleep"       muelhankima
"that we sleep"

The inanimate singular clitic also has two forms, which have the following distribution: The form -i attaches to nouns ending with a consonant, and to verbs ending with a consonant or with the vowels a, e, and o. The form -hi is used with nouns ending with a vowel, as well as verbs ending with the vowels i and u. For example, compare the following:


te hitol    "the door"
te satha     "the roof"
te hitoli   "its door"       te sathahi   "its

Verbs (see also the verb tables given in section 3.5):

Mai   tahai        pule
I:Abs visit-the:NA
"I visit the village"

tahotihi         pule
I:Abs visit-Neg-the:NA village-Dat
"I do
not visit the village"

Non-absolutive clitics are found on both nouns and verbs. On nouns they mark the possessor in a possessive construction. Consider the following examples with te kopo "the pot":

te kopoma    "my pot"
te kopokma      "our pot"
te kopoko    "your pot"         te kopokyina    "your (plural) pot"
te kopona    "his/her pot"      te koposa       "their pot"

te kopona Han       "Han's pot" (lit.
"the pot-the Han")

te kopona mikal
"the boy's pot"
te koposa mikal
"the boys' pot"
ten kopona mikal
"the boy's pots"
ten koposa mikal
"the boys' pots"

Non-absolutive clitics are added to the noun after the case suffix, if any:

itan kopone          "the
itan koponma         "my
pot-Inst"     (= kopo + -ne + -ma )
itan koponna
Han     "Han's pot-Inst"

Notice that the noun accompanying the clitic (e.g. Han, mikal) receives no special possessor marking in these examples (there is nothing equivalent to 's in English the boy's pot). Possessors may optionally appear in the dative case, however:

te kopona Hane       "Han's pot"
te kopona mikale     "the boy's

Note that while dative marking is more or less optional with animate possessors, inanimate 'possessors' obligatorily appear in the dative case:

te      sathahi     katiai
the:Abs roof-the:NA
"the roof of the house"

naleihi       katiai
the:Abs colour-the:NA house-Dat
colour of the house"

When attached to a verb, a non-absolutive clitic marks some non-absolutive argument of that verb (viz. an ergative, dative, instrumental, or ablative case-marked participant). For example:

(a) Ergative arguments: When an ergative subject determiner follows the verb, it shows up as a non-absolutive clitic on the verb, as shown below. Compare the following two sentences, where the first sentence contains a preverbal ergative subject and the second contains a postverbal ergative subject:

Na      Mothe uhna
the:Erg Mothe sing

Uhnana      Mothe
"Mothe is singing"

Additional examples are given below:

uhnama          "I sing"
uhnakma         "wesing"
uhnana mikal    "the boy sings"
uhnasa mikal    "the boys

(b) Instrumental arguments: Similarly, when an instrumental subject follows the verb, it also shows up as a non-absolutive clitic. Compare:

Itan     ahone    sylhè
the:Inst sun-Inst melt-Pst-the:Abs ice
"The sun melted the

Sylhei          ahone    te
kise            (sylhei = sylhe + itan)
melt-Pst-the:NA sun-Inst the:Abs ice
sun melted the ice"

(c) Dative arguments:

Teusu hotsmana
Mothè                         (hotsmana = hotsma +
very  angry-the:NA Mothe-Dat
is very angry"

Na      Mothe lastema        ten
kihun    (lastema = laste + imai)
Mothe send-Pst-me:NA the:Pl:Abs letter
"Mothe sent me the

Na      Sakial sulhtai     pule
lhon      (sulhtai = sulhta + itai)
Sakial live-the:NA village-Dat there
"Sakial lives in that

(d) Ablative arguments:

Ami   tifnei
akotu   ten        halma   (tifnei =
tifne + itaul)
I:Erg take-Pst-the:NA box-Abl the:Pl:Abs
"I took the books out of the



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